Terminology Help

I have searched and searched and I still can't 100% say that I understand the difference in the following:

  1. Breakout Board vs. Sheild vs. Breadboard vs. Header Board
  2. Arduino - Is it the PCB? Is it the software that is installed on a micro controller (Atmega I think???)
  3. Why is it called a prototyping board? Do I use it to start a project but then once I have all the sensors and programming finished, do I have to design a new PCB? Can I use and UNO for mass production?

Just some questions that come to mind.

FYI...I have purchased Getting Started with Arduino and Building Wireless Sensor Networks but they have not come in yet.

I am a newbe too, so please anyone correct me if I am mislead about anything;

  1. Breakout Board is a pcb that you can buy that includes some of the necessary components and programming to save you doing it yourself - for example, sparkun has lots of accelerometer breakout boards: to buy the accelerometer chip itself would mean you would have to add these parts separately and considering the chip is so small (surface mount type) this is not something you would normally want to do. So breakoutbards are what most people go with, i think.

Header Board; i think this is a pin connector to allow a programmer or interface module to hook up to various circuit boards, so that when you dont need it (you have finished programming things etc) you can remove the module. It saves soldering your module to the board, which of course is dumb. Again, I think..... :-)

  1. Arduino - comes in various flavors. YOu can by a AVR chip with the Arduino paradigm bootloaded onto the chip, or by a breakbout (?) board with everything ready to go once you attached your sensors etc
  1. Why is it called a prototyping board?

Protoyping is using a solderless breadboard for checking your circuit before you go soldering it. You use it to experiment without damaging or making anything permanent.Once your circuit does what you want it to do, then you solder all the parts onto a solder board.

A PCB is a board made by a company, or you can do it at home, based on a schematic you have perfected. Usually people who want a pcd made of their project send their schematic (after it is turned into a Gerber file) to the company (and pay them, of course) and receive the manufactured board in the post some time after....

[u]Breakout boards[/u] are typically used to make it easier to make connections to a specific device, espececially when that device has non-standard connectors.

A [u]shield[/u] is an Arduino specific term for a type of breakout board that makes it easier to connect external components to the Arduino hardware.

A [u]breadboard[/u] is used to make build up an electrical circuit during initial construction and testing. In the very early days it was not uncommon to screw components to a real breadboard, the kind on which you would normally slice bread. Nowadays we tend to use solderless breadboards, the kind made out of white plastic with interconnected holes for the component leads.

A [u]header board[/u] typically has push-on or screw terminals for that make it easier to connect to a component (frequently an IC) that is mounted on that board.

The term Arduino is used for [u]both[/u] the hardware (PCB) and the software (the Arduino IDE) which is installed on the host computer.

A [u]prototyping board[/u] typically has some key components mounted permanently on the board interconnected by PC traces, and has a grid of solder pads for the mounting of external components. For our purposes the major components needed to make the microcontroller function would be the ones that are permanently mounted on the board. These would be a subset of the components on your Arduino PC board. The peripheral components would be soldered to the pads and interconnected with wires. These would be the components that you might otherwise find on a shield. If you have a one of a kind project you might just use the prototyping board. For a larger run you would probably design a new PCB. For mass production a UNO would be usable but financially unsuitable, but one of the sparser XXX'uinos might be a good choice.

Don

Thanks for both of your replies!

So basically a breakout board and shield are the same thing (with the shield predominately referring to breakout boards for Arduino PCB). Is that correct?

Are header boards are what shields use to connect to PCB?

So if I use Arduino to "prototype", then I will need to make sure what ever mass production PCB I produce will use a chip that supports Arduino? What chips support Arduino (I hear terms like Atmega and ARM...are these microcontrollers?)

So when it comes to mass production, why are the Arduino boards no cost effective? Do they have too many "options"? When using an Arduino to prototype, what would I change to go to mass production?

So basically a breakout board and shield are the same thing (with the shield predominately referring to breakout boards for Arduino PCB). Is that correct?

The generic term shield has been used by the Arduino developers to mean a board that plugs into the non-standard pin spacing of the Arduino pc board. The term shield has no electrical or electronic meaning to anyone not familiar with the Arduino because it refers specifically (a much stronger term than predominately) to the Arduino PCB. You are likely to get a dumb stare back in response if you use it with a person who is not familiar with the Arduino. Actually I simplified my original explanation a bit too much because a shield can be thought of as the opposite of a breakout board. In many cases a breakout board makes it easier to connect components with non-standard pin spacing to solderless breadboards or header strips with standardized pin spacing. A shield makes it easy to connect devices, regardless of their pin spacing, to the non-standard pin spacing of the Arduino pc board.

Are header boards are what shields use to connect to PCB?

The connectors between the shields and the Arduino PCB are called header strips. I wouldn't call them header boards although header boards frequently use header strips.

So if I use Arduino to "prototype", then I will need to make sure what ever mass production PCB I produce will use a chip that supports Arduino? What chips support Arduino (I hear terms like Atmega and ARM...are these microcontrollers?)

The Arduino (UNO) PCB contains an Atmel ATmega328 microcontroller chip. The other Arduino boards contain the same chip or a similar software compatible chip. Any program written for the ATmega328, regardless of the programming language used, can run on the Arduino PCB. The Arduino software is essentially C++ but the Arduino IDE does a considerable amount of the detailed programming work allowing non-programmers to successfully get the microcontroller to function.

... why are the Arduino boards no cost effective? Do they have too many "options"?

There are a lot of extra components that are used in program development but are not needed in the final product. Depending on your product this could include the power supply, the USB circuitry including the second microcontroller on the UNO, the LED and its resistor, the power supply switching circuitry which replaces a simple three terminal header, the IC socket, the header strips, etc. In many cases all you need is the microcontroller, the crystal, and a three capacitors. You could even use a resonator in place of the crystal and two of the capacitors. Do a search for 'standalone Arduino' to get some ideas.

Don